Welcome to Bedford County!
County's world-famous Peaks of Otter
(Sharp Top, left, and
Flat Top) as viewed from the burgeoning hamlet of Forest and facing West.
The county seat, the
City of Bedford, lies virtually at the foot of these spectacular mountains.
"They, indeed, are
the very princes of freemen; breathing, as they do, the pure breezes of
their own blue mountains, and daily learning lessons of liberty and independence
from the wild bird that soars in unobstructed flight and proud defiance
about the towering summit of the Peaks of Otter."
of the Bedford County Sheriff's Office
County was formed on what was then the frontier from Albemarle
and Lunenburg counties in 1754 and was named for John Russell, the Fourth
Duke of Bedford (b. 30 Sep. 1710 -- d. 15 Jan. 1771), who served as Great
Britain's Secretary of State. (The Duke's influence lives on today
in the Official Seal of Bedford County and in
a frieze on the County Courthouse.) Another noteworthy event that
same year was the founding of the Society of St. Andrews Golfers at St.
Andrews in Scotland. (Read
more about this
map, surveyed and drawn by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson and published
in 1754.) In the year Bedford County was born, George Washington
was 22. Thomas Jefferson was a mere 11 years old, running and playing
in Albemarle County (which had just gotten noticeably smaller) some 90
miles to the North. Little did the young Jefferson know then that
he would build his private retreat,
Forest, in Bedford County, (picture the President of the United States
on his hands and knees, showing his foreman how to lay the brick for an
octagonal foundation!) which would become one of his favorite spots on
central town of Bedford Country was once known as Liberty, so named after
the Colonial victory over Cornwallis at Yorktown. In 1782, on 200
acres of donated land at the geographic center of the County and with a
new log courthouse, the new town of Liberty superseded New London as Bedford
County's seat of government. Officially becoming a town in 1839,
Liberty changed its name to Bedford City in 1890, reverted to town status
in 1912 and, in 1968, again became the City
of Bedford, which, in 1993, was recognized as "one of the 100 best
small towns in America."
Originally an agricultural
economy, Bedford County's industrial development began in 1880, and since
that time industrial growth has been consistent, fostered by the involvement
of its citizens. The county is home to a wealth of historic sites,
structures, and scenic tourist attractions including Smith
Mountain Lake (Virginia's largest lake) and the world-famous Peaks
of Otter, which, in Mr. Jefferson's time, were thought to be the highest
mountains in America.
Bedford is also the site
of the National D-Day Memorial, scheduled
to open on D-Day (6 June) 2000. In 1944, Bedford had a population
of just 3,200 and was the home of Company A, 116th Infantry, 29th Division
(pictured above). Bedford sent more of her sons per capita to the
WWII effort than any other community in America and lost 21 of them at
Omaha Beach on D-Day alone.
Bedford County is comprised
of 764 square miles in the west-central portion of Virginia's central plateau.
The area has a rolling to hilly terrain with elevations from 800 feet to
4,200 feet above sea level.
spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains and Parkway define the West. U.S. Hwy.
460 connects the City of Roanoke and I-81 on the West to the City of Lynchburg
and U.S. 29 to the East. The mighty James River rolls along to the North,
and Smith Mountain Lake sprawls to the South. Bedford County is heavily
travelled and frequently visited. What makes Bedford County such a great
place to live and work has also made it an attractive target for would-be
criminals. Bedford County has also witnessed remarkable
population growth: over 24% in the last seven years, making it
one of the fastest-growing counties in America.
There have been "growing pains," which have been felt especially by all
of Bedford County's public servants. Together we are working not
only to meet these demands, but to anticipate them and develop innovative
ways to deal effectively with them.
The Bedford County Sheriff's
Office has worked hard to make it clear to all that crime and illicit drugs
will not be tolerated in our special part of America.
Since January 1, 1996, through
dedication and innovation, education and interdiction, the Bedford County
Sheriff's Office has improved efficiencies, redistributed allocations,
enhanced communications and launched initiatives to tally dramatic increases
in arrests for crimes virtually across the board. As a result of
input from alert citizens, dramatic increases have been seen in:
Late in 1998, the Bedford County
Sheriff's Office was one of only 10 law enforcement agencies in America
awarded a federal grant of $200,000 to continue its innovative high-tech
war on child pornography distributed over the Internet as well as those
who prowl the Internet looking for child victims, a campaign which has
already netted international arrests, has earned the praise of the U.S
Dept. of Justice, and has also garnered national and international media
recognition for the Bedford County Sheriff's Office's initiative, which
has taken on a national and international scope -- now known as Operation
Blue Ridge Thunder: America's Internet Crimes Against Children Task
drug-related arrests, (a 400%
increase since 1996)
Child abuse and exploitation
Traffic safety violations, (DUI,
reckless driving and speeding in school zones, etc.)
"Deadbeat" parent arrests, (including
recovery of more than $4 MILLION in child support for Bedford County's
Child pornographer / molester
arrests, and more.
Since 1996, the Bedford County
Sheriff's Office has made numerous significant, if unorthodox, improvements
in ensuring public safety and cracking down on crime, and in getting the
most law enforcement "bang for the buck." Some of these improvements include
a switch from brown cruisers to white: a break from tradition that
has other sheriff's department statewide following. The white vehicles
dramatically improve visibility and thereby safety and are less costly
to paint, allowing Bedford County taxpayers money to be spent on more meaningful
law enforcement expenditures. One of the most innovative was the addition
of Z-28 Camaros funded largely by drug forfeiture
money, to the BCSO fleet for the Special Drug Enforcement
Patrol which, when coupled with the new K-9 Drug
and Patrol Unit, makes for some formidable interdiction in illicit
The addition of a Maritime
Lake Patrol Unit and a High-Tech Investigative
Unit are other innovations already yielding impressive results that
are getting the attention not only of citizens and the national media,
but also would-be criminals. In July 1999, the BCSO became the 9th sheriff's
office and the 18th law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth of Virginia
to become fully accredited. Sheriff Mike
Brown's message is remarkably clear: "If you're going to break the law,
don't do it in Bedford County, Virginia."
Vade Mecum; or, The Companion of Youth, and Guide to College. Cincinnati:
In the collection of the
Library of the University of Virginia.